Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Hello Dr. Bill,

First, thank you for your time in answering this question.

I am a 50-year-old gay man and have been out since I was 16.  I lead a rather conventional suburban lifestyle in the SF Bay Area.  A few years back, I ended a 17 year relationship and I have been with my current boyfriend for two years. We don't live together but we are in a sexually and emotionally monogamous relationship.

I would hate to think that I am being naive, but what are the chances of getting crabs without having had sex with someone?  I got them but I did not have sex with anyone and my boyfriend said he did not have sex with anyone as well.  I have not tried on new clothes or slept in anyone else's bed.  I am completely baffled on how I could have gotten these little "buggers."

Any light you can shed would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you, again.
Well, first let me make it clear that yes, you can get crabs without having sex with anyone, but there are certain conditions. The problem in your case is that you have not shared anyone's clothing, slept in someone else's bed, and presumably have not shared towels with anyone, either. That eliminates most of the possibilities. Technically, I suppose one could get crabs from a toilet seat if you use it not long after an infected person has been sitting there, but remember that crabs do not live too long away from the warmth of the host body -- and they have little reason to leave it just to hang out on a toilet seat. Is it possible that your boyfriend borrowed clothing from someone, or crashed in someone's apartment [without necessarily having sex with them]?

However, the truth is that people generally wind up with crab lice after having sex -- or at least some kind of close physical contact -- with someone else. Perhaps your boyfriend can shed some light on where he picked them up? Or perhaps be a little more honest? But remember, if he did have a one-night-stand, don't over-react. Sometimes these things happen and they really don't mean anything. 

That being said, most people can forgive an occasional "indiscretion" more than they can getting crabs -- especially without the pleasure of sex!

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